After one week of being home, I did not expect the transition to be filled with this many challenges while reintegrating myself into my home community and host culture. I can most certainly view myself as a liminal being once again. I understand from what we were taught that reincorporation is all about incorporating a changed identity into a community that hasn’t necessarily changed itself, however, in my case, the culture I came back was much different than the one I left. Before I came home, I was warned about the changes that had occurred but the reverse culture shocked that occurred was much greater than expected. As I had mentioned in my previous travel log, I was expecting to come home to an open door since I was going to be a different person going home that no matter what it was going to be different for me. However, I have been now needing to adjust to a community that I do not know how to act in or where I belong and I find that it is much more difficult than a simple adjustment like going abroad. I remembered my community the way I left it along with the ideas, culture, processes, trends, friendships, relationships, etc. that had surrounded me. Going home to a changed community has forced me to make my old habits die hard. However, I am incredibly thankful for my travel abroad experience before this reincorporation because it has taught me how to handle myself and how to adjust. By reincorporating my new identity I am carrying the experience forward with a change in habit not only for the sake of myself but for also the changed community I am readjusting back into. I am remembering my experience and the way I had gracefully adjusted in Barcelona to now how I can adjust and take tips from myself on how to gracefully reincorporate myself into my home community.
Due to this difficult reincorporation phase for me, I found that there is no other perfect way to carry forward one of the “gems” I have collected on my education abroad experience than to “rediscover ‘place’ in your local community” (Slimbach 221). Slimbach helped me in carrying forward this gem when he wrote the following and it truly resonated with me:
Journeys across the globe ultimately prepare- and impel- us to see around the block with new eyes. Every domestic community offers us opportunities to cross borders of difference and join others in their daily struggles… In doing so, we position ourselves no only to apply what has been learned abroad, but to also discover strands of beauty and truth within next-door nations that can be woven into a richer, more world-wise personal character… Opportunities abound to serve side by side with those who model local responses to global problems. (Slimbach 221-222)
What I had gained while abroad was a sense of my dire need and hope to help others in local communities with global problems. I want to make a change in this world and while abroad I discovered that I needed to push for what I would like to do and not wait around for it to happen. I will bring forth what I have to contribute to a more world-wise personal character and find my new place in my local community that will better me for my goals and help me carry forward my gem so that I will not lose what is gained. Of course I will have many habits I need to change in order to carry forward my experience, however, I took the initiative to make this happen by moving to Washington D.C.
A quote that represents my thoughts, feelings, and actions at this time, is in the attached picture, but it is actually a word and it’s definition. Sophrosyne: a healthy state of mind, characterized by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one’s true self, and resulting in true happiness. After being abroad, I am now in a completely healthy state of mind knowing how deeply aware I am of my true self and by self-control I knew my best move would be to relocate to D.C. where I can continue “carrying forward my gem”. Here, I have already found true happiness and continuously readjusting the way I learned to do so in Barcelona.
The reincorporation letter I wrote shared all of the above information, which I was I decided to write about it last, and I shared it with my parents. In the letter I discussed the difficult transition I had home, how amazing of an experience Barcelona was, and of course how important it is to me that I do not lose the “gems” I gained while abroad and that my best option for myself is to move from Rhode Island to D.C. My parents right away affirmed the change and the growth that has certainly resulted of this experience and they couldn’t have been more supportive. They encouraged me to move. The support and encouragement they gave to have yet another life changing experience is one I will be forever grateful for. Their support of leaving allowed me to feel a sense of closure and my reincorporation phase heading in the correct direction. I would not trade my experience in Barcelona for the world or the support my home community has given me in realizing the growth and change that has occurred.